Comparative Guts

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The Body

Diagram showing the location of the organs responsible for digestion, including spleen, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and urinary bladder (from Hǒ Chun, Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine).

In the representative Korean medical text, Tongui Pogam 東醫寶鑑Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine (1613), Hǒ Chun explained the body, in Daoist and Buddhist conceptual terms, as a haven for thousands of divinities and spirits. Accompanying the illustrations attributed to Hǒ, his writing draws on the ideas of Chinese physicians Sun Simiao and Zhu Danxi to explain the body’s configuration. In doing so, he argued that each part of the body corresponds to the movement of the heavens. The body was also a metaphor for the country. Drawing on the Chinese text, the Baopuzi 抱樸子, Hǒ explains that the chest and abdomen are the royal palace. He also draws on the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor(黃帝內經) to explain that the spleen and stomach are equivalent to the storage where the five tastes are emitted.